I do not expect any sympathy whatsoever but so far this year, my only holiday has been a long weekend back home in Ireland for a friend’s wedding, which entailed one marathon piss-up, one day being so hungover I wished for death, and the next two trying to assuage my Catholic guilt by clearing boxes of old school copybooks and strings of fairy lights purchased in Thailand circa 2002 from my bedroom at the behest of my parents. I arrived back in London feeling and looking like utter shit, got home, ordered a pizza from Deliveroo and fell asleep on my bed in my clothes.
My next break I swore would be different, so I signed up for the least "me" thing I've ever done, a four-day "cleansing package" at a swanky hotel in Greece. This, I tell myself, will be a proper break, in a hotel with clean sheets on the bed, blue skies, sand, the Aegean Sea and more than six hours' sleep a night.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the journey to the airport feels like it. I need to be there by 4am, which means leaving my house at 2.30am, which means staying out and not bothering going to bed at all. And that is how my detox begins – boozy, smoky and bleary-eyed.
The "cleansing" package, I'm told, has been designed to "stimulate circulation and detoxification". I think the word "detox" is a pile of bollocks, used to sell (mostly women) junk that they don’t need 'cause guess what, your internal organs know how to detox better than any cold-pressed juice. But scepticism aside, I really like the look of the itinerary, which involves outdoorsy exercise, plenty of delicious (real) food, wine and lots of lovely spa treatments.
On the first day I try a "water source journey" in the thermal spa (people love a "journey" don’t they) complete with steam room, Finnish sauna, tepidarium and a cold plunge pool. After that I am taken in a fluffy robe and slippers to be massaged, scrubbed and left to relax. Later I join an outdoor Pilates class which makes me realise I don’t hate all exercise, I just hate intimidating gyms with exposed brick, wall-to-wall mirrors and Ibiza Club Stompers 2014 playing at full blast. Exercising outdoors is really lovely and I decide to do more of it at home. By the morning of day two, I am feeling significantly better and by that I mean less addled, happier and more energetic. I start the morning in my room with a coffee and a butt-naked swim in my small private pool overlooking the sea.
The last full day of the trip is my favourite, a group of us get to try Nordic walking (with those silly sticks that are actually not silly at all). After about three hours of trekking in the heat I return for a Cryo Gel treatment – a draining leg massage and mask to boost blood circulation. Later in the afternoon I have a hydrobath (eh, all baths are hydrobaths, right?). At the end I feel so relaxed and far from London I have forgotten my last name and what I do for a living. On the final night I am in bed by 10pm. You have no idea how long it is since I’ve been able to write that sentence but the hotel beds are like clouds and I also undertake to investigate the cost of new sheets upon return. Or at least, start putting pillowcases on my pillows.
On the last morning I get up early to have one more nude swim. As I pack, I can’t help wishing the taxi would leave without me so I could have one more day here. I feel a bit foolish really, that I'd left it this long to take some time for myself. Going home to visit family and friends is all well and good but I never feel like it's a proper break with no strings attached, and that's what I've been missing – time to truly relax and to think.
Look, I’m not a changed woman or anything, but my little break made me realise that my work hard, eat crap, drink like a fish, smoke like a trooper and repeat lifestyle is taking its toll. If I keep it up, I'll look like Keith Richards by the time I'm 40. Living in London, or any city or town, can get a bit much and everyone needs time away from it.
The last thing I do before heading to the airport is to take the hotel pen and paper on the bedside table and write a list of the things I need more of in my life. It’s a long one with things like seeing friends I really like, reading, walking, listening to podcasts that are not solely about women being murdered, watching movies alone, dancing alone or in a group, travel (even if it’s just to Box Hill or the Co-op up the road), and pillowcases (matching sheets is my 2019 goal). In the column next to it I write the things I do too much of. There are only four: drinking, smoking, social obligation and Deliveroo.